College Student Backpacking from Italy.

Hello there! Next spring (2014),my best friend and I will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy. After classes finish up around mid May,we were hoping to backpack from Italy up to Paris and seeing as much as we can in-between! Here are some places on our bucket list to hit (keep in mind we are just brainstorming now, so a lot of our ideas are pretty vague. So any advice/tips would be wonderful!) Switzerland Austria Praque Germany Luxembourg Any ideas on an itinerary would be great! Tentatively this will be from May 17-June 4. Thanks so much!
Brianne

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
92 posts

Hi there! It is very broad...Do you have specific interest?
I love all the place on your list...but I would suggest swapping Luxembourg for Barcelona or another more vibrant city!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

If you are thinking of the Swiss Alps, May is pretty early, so you will basically just pass through. Or you could skip it and go straight to Austria. From Florence, assuming you travel by train, you can go either Florence-Milan Luzern- (Alps) - Innsbruck, Or the shorter Florence-Verona-Innsbruck. From Innsbruck head to Salzburg and then Linz, where you catch a direct train to Prague. Then Into Germany via Dresden, and form there you can head either north to Berlinnor south to Munich. ( at your age I would choose Berlin, hands down). Why is Luxembourg on your list?

Posted by Will
Columbia, SC
315 posts

If you limit yourself to two and a half weeks, you're going to have to be pretty selective in your destinations. I would suggest adding another week or two, but then if you've been away for five months, you may be craving the comforts of home by that point. One problem with your list is that Florence to Switzerland to Paris is a fairly straight shot to the northwest, while Prague, Austria, and much of Germany are to the northeast. A big loop incorporating all of these is not really feasible given your time frame. I'd suggest first getting some "travel skills" guidebooks such as Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door and the Rough Guide First Time Europe. These can help with itinerary planning, budgeting for transportation expenses, etc. Btw, Luxembourg isn't really at the top of a first-timer's "must see" list. Luxembourg City has an interesting setting around a deep ravine, but the country doesn't have a whole lot of interest for young travelers. More specifics- Germany is a huge country; if I had just a few days to spend I would go to Berlin, a really exciting and fascinating city. Munich is a popular stop and might make more sense for your route, but it's actually one of the less interesting major European cities I visited. Good luck!

Posted by Will
Columbia, SC
315 posts

Thinking about this again, you could fit most of these into 2.5 to 3 weeks (though pretty fast paced). One option would be to skip Switzerland, and take the daily overnight train from Florence to Munich. Munich to Vienna, Vienna to Prague, and Prague to Berlin are each around five hours by train (you could stop in Salzburg, maybe Dresden too). You could then catch a budget flight from Berlin to Paris (or Prague to Paris). The third week in May is still a little early for some outdoor activities in the Swiss Alps (some higher altitude hiking trails will likely still be closed), but you could still have a great time. Florence to Interlaken (jumping off point for the best of the Swiss Alps) is 5.5 to 6 hours by train. Interlaken to Munich is around 7 hours. You should budget at least three nights for major cities (at least four for Berlin if you can help it). Play around on bahn.com (German Rail website, contains schedules for almost all of Europe) to get an idea of travel times.